Family of Worker Killed in Factory Explosion Receives $2.7 Million

April 23, 2013

Work accident lawyers at Pintas & Mullins report that a jury in New Jersey recently awarded the family of a killed worker and several other injured employees more than $2.7 million. The explosion took place in 2008 at a metal casting plant.

1247058_chemical_plant_explosion.jpgThe man was 61-year-old Mario Gomez, a husband and father of five from Jersey City. He was instantly killed when a pressurized tank exploded in early 2008 at a Tec-Cast Inc. factory in Carlstadt. The explosion threw Gomez about 30 feet and injured nine other employees, three of them critically.

Tec-Cast manufactures small aluminum castings, and around 8 a.m. that morning, Gomez, a maintenance supervisor, was trying to repair a seal in a pressurized vat when the cast-iron door blew off. One worker of a nearby paint store stated that it sounded like a bomb had gone off, followed by cries for help.

It was unclear what caused the vat to explode, although a police captain said pressure buildup was likely to blame. Several workers suffered broken bones and severe cuts to the body. Some were taken to nearby medical centers for treatment. Gomez was set to retire in 2009. The jury awarded Gomez's family $1.4 million, and the remaining amount will go to the other injured workers.

Ten years prior, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited the Tec-Cast plant for multiple violations, resulting in a $6,000 fine. A second plant, located in Moonachie, passed OSHA inspections in October 2008 with no violations.

In related news, a fire recently broke out at an Exxon Mobil refinery in Beaumont, Texas. The blaze erupted in a process unit but was quickly brought under control. The Beaumont refinery processes nearly 350,000 barrels a day. About 12 employees were injured in the fire, six of them transported to nearby hospitals for treatment. The fire erupted in a unit that was down for maintenance.

Another oil giant, BP, is currently facing a one billion dollar lawsuit filed by more than 470 people claiming they became sick after a 15-day gasoline leak. The mercaptan leak came from a storage tank in a BP refinery in Texas City in November 2011. The leak contained mercaptan, a gas often added to natural gas, along with sulfur dioxide, which is a toxic gas. The refinery has since been sold to Marathon Petroleum for $2.5 billion.

In 2005, 15 people were killed in an explosion at the Texas City refinery. In 2010, throughout most of April and May, the refinery released more than 17,000 pounds of benzene alone into the environment contaminating the Texas City community air. The leak lasted 40 days, and there is currently a $500 billion lawsuit pending in court because of it. Nearly 50,000 residents are suing BP in connection to the toxic pollution, their symptoms ranging from headaches to nose bleeds.

The fire caused the release of more than 20 different chemicals, including 190,000 pounds of carbon monoxide and 37,500 pounds of nitrogen oxides. Also in 2010, the Texas attorney general sued BP for several violations of the state's Clean Air Act, claiming the company had a pattern of unlawful and unnecessary emissions - 72 specifically, between 2005 and 2010.

Employment attorneys at Pintas & Mullins encourage anyone injured or unfairly treated while on the job to contact a skilled lawyer as soon as possible. You may be entitled to significant damages for any lost wages, medical bills, or emotional distress.